The War Dead Search Engine|
When the Great War came in August 1914 Lurgan men came in their thousands to enlist in the 15 Irish regiments of the period. Many men went to the regiments their fathers had fought in 12 years earlier during the Boer War, but the majority joined at the recruitment drive at Brownlow House in September 1914.
In all, about 210,000 Irishmen served in the British forces during World War One. Since there was no conscription, about 140,000 of these joined during the war as volunteers. Some 35,000 Irish died. Irishmen enlisted for the war effort for a variety of reasons. Some, just like their fellows in other warring states, joined up for the perceived justice of the cause. But in Ireland, which in 1914 was deeply divided between nationalist and unionist political groups, more local considerations played an important part for many individuals.
Following one of the worst depressions in recorded history, unemployment was high in Lurgan in these pre war years. When entitlement to unemployment benefit expired many were forced to turn to the Boards of Guardians who had traditionally provided assistance for the old, the sick and orphans for support. The attitude of the Boards was Victorian and they took the view that people should fend for themselves. Observers commented on the dreadful conditions of the poor and unemployed ‘…their appearance is of a people who have lost hope’. In rural areas matters were not much better. Farming methods were outmoded and the Depression caused a near collapse in agricultural prices. Despite a recruitment drive in May 1940, there seemed to be little popular enthusiasm and numbers enlisting fluctuated throughout the war. As in World War 1, when war finally came to Lurgan, men enlisted for financial reason rather than patriotic ones.
World War two was a much different affair for the people of Lurgan than the previous world conflict. There was no nationalistic fervour that made men rush to throw down their lives for a King and Country that resented them or at best ignored their very existence. This, unlike World War 1, would bring death and destruction to the very doorsteps of the homes they loved.
The Search engine below contains the names of those brave Lurgan souls who laid down their lives in two World Wars, some, if not perhaps for King, then certainly for country and the land that they loved.
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